As the victim of a San Diego car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries if another party caused, or contributed to, the collision. If you are able to prove that another person, or entity, was negligent, or at fault, you may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages. Under very specific circumstances, you could even be entitled to punitive damages. Only an experienced San Diego car accident attorney can review the details of your accident and provide you with specific advice with regard to the damages you may be entitled to; however, a basic understanding of the types of damages available to an injured victim may be helpful for now.
California allows an injured victim to recover two types of compensatory damages – economic and non-economic. Compensatory damages are intended to compensate the victim for actual injuries the victim suffered. Economic damages are typically out-of-pocket expenses that are easily quantifiable, such as the costs associated with repairing your vehicle, medical and hospital bills, and lost wages.
Non-economic damages are what people commonly referred to as “pain and suffering” and are much harder to quantify because they are subjective in nature. California Civil Code Section 1431.2(b)(2) defines non-economic damages as:
“subjective, non-monetary losses including, but not limited to, pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental suffering, emotional distress, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, injury to reputation and humiliation.”
The portion of your settlement or award that represents the non-economic damages you suffered is more difficult to place a value on because there are a variety of factors that can influence the impact a collision has on the life of a victim. While the extent and severity of your physical injuries is certainly a factor when determining the value of your non-economic damages,
there are other factors that can also increase or decrease the estimated value of your non-economic damages.
In San Diego, punitive damages are not intended to compensate the victim. Instead, they are intended to punish the defendant. Therefore, punitive damages are only available when “it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice” California Civil Code Section 3294 (a).
If you have been injured in a San Diego motor vehicle accident, contact an experienced San Diego personal injury attorney as soon as possible to determine what legal options you have and what damages you may be entitled to for your injuries.